The Shanghai Moon
Joel Pilarsky was Lydia Chin's mentor and teacher when she became a private investigator. Although she now has her own business, she still works with Joel on occasion. He calls her because he needs someone familiar with Chinatown and the jewelers there. Then he tells her a story she hadn't heard.
In the late 1930's many Jews were fleeing Europe. One of the few open ports (no quotas) available to them was Shanghai. An older teen age girl, Rosalie Gilder, and her young brother Paul sailed to Shanghai, then occupied by the Japanese. They were expecting their mother and uncle to follow. They never made it. But Rosalie had the family jewels hidden away where they remained undiscovered by all who searched them in their travels. Rosalie lived and died in China and the jewels were lost. Paul came to America after his sister died.
Recently the jewels had been found during excavations. A lawyer who specializes in recovery artifacts lives in Switzerland. She asked a friend of her to give her the name of a private investigator in New York City. He gives his best friend's name, Joel Pilarsky. After Rosalie's jewels were found, a Chinese administrator stole them and disappeared. It is believed he skipped to New York City and plans to sell the jewels. Joel asks Lydia for her help.
Lydia starts her background work, getting the identity of the thief, the description of the jewels, when he was last seen, etc. She also is able to locate some of Rosalie's letters to her mother through the Holocaust Museum. Lydia becomes entwined in Rosalie's life, almost forgetting that the woman lived 60 years earlier.
Lydia has a personal concern, as well. Her partner, Bill Smith, has quit returning her calls or talking to her. He believes he's not good for her because of his family history and current happenings that have brought everything back to him (check out Winter and Night). But when Lydia finds Joel Pilarsky's body after being shot in the head, Bill finally reaches out to her. While she mourns the death of her friend, she has to decide whether she wants to be Bill's partner again or not. In the meantime, he helps her with the investigation.
The more Lydia investigates, the more she uncovers. It seems Rosalie also had a special brooch made when she married, the Shanghai Moon. It was made from jade and diamonds. It disappeared when she died, separate from the rest of the jewels. Jewelry collectors have been looking for the piece ever since. A complete mystique has grown around the piece. Was the Shanghai Moon with the other jewelry and disguised by the thief before anyone else could see it? Did Rosalie have it when she died, then robbed as well as killed? Does it even still exist?
There is so much more to The Shanghai Moon. S.J. Rozan has written a multilayered novel that is a good bit of detective mystery. It explores a little known part of World War II/Jewish history.
Family relationships are entwined throughout the book as well as unscrupulous and scrupulous villains. The family relationships include Lydia's own, the Jewish culture that was part of Joel Pilarsky's life, the Jewish people in China during the war, current Chinese American families who descended from the people from the war.
Rozan also has Lydia reexamining her own relationships with Bill and with her best friend Rose. Rozan brings all the threads and layers together so well the reader doesn't realize until after the book is closed just how much is in it. The ending has its share of quiet surprises. The Shanghai Moon is poignant and insightful; it remains an excellent mystery as well.
(As an aside, I'm finally caught up on the Lydia Chin/Bill Smith series - for about three week. That's when the next one in the series is due to be published. I've already requested to be put on the waiting list for it at the library.)
Notice: Non-graphic violence
|Lydia Chin and Bill Smith:||
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